A mentally ill woman warned she could kill someone to get admitted to hospital hours before she murdered a grandmother, an inquest has heard.
Nicola Edgington (pictured) was taken by police to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, on October 10 2011 after asking to be sectioned.
She told the A&E receptionist: "Is it going to take for me to kill someone, as I've done it before, to be seen?"
Later that day she killed stranger Sally Hodkin in Bexleyheath, south-east London, six years after killing her own mother.
Police officers had picked up Edgington from a minicab firm office after she had called emergency services because she had no money to pay for a taxi.
Pc Dan Phillips said she had appeared "calm" and "meek" and softly spoken when he had arrived with colleague Pc Matthew Payne shortly after 4am.
An ambulance also arrived at the scene but Edgington declined to get inside, saying it made her feel claustrophobic.
"She told us, 'I don't want to get in the big box, I don't like confined spaces'," Pc Payne told a hearing at South London Coroner's Court.
After being driven to and checked in at A&E by the officers, Edgington grew more agitated and demanded to be taken to Oxleas House mental health unit in Greenwich.
She paced around the waiting room before approaching receptionist Sylvia Rogers to suggest she could kill someone in order to be seen.
Edgington was taken to Oxleas House to be admitted, but was able to freely walk out of the unit.
She later almost decapitated Ms Hodkin with a butcher's knife in a memorial park in Bexleyheath.
Coroner Sarah Ormond-Walshe asked police officers why Edgington was not sectioned, with both saying they felt she did not present a danger to herself or others.
They expressed "shock" and "surprise" when they later learned about Ms Hodkin's murder.
Pc Payne said: "At no time did she become aggressive or violent and it comes as a complete surprise to me.
"At the time of meeting Nicola I wasn't concerned about her behaviour that night."
Pc Phillips said: "This was a shock to me as she never appeared aggressive and only wanted help from the hospital."
The diagnosed schizophrenic was discharged from the Bracton Centre mental health facility in 2009, despite an order that she be detained indefinitely following the killing of her mother Marion.
The inquest previously heard Edgington threatened at least two people with knives while on discharge, smoked high-strength cannabis and had not slept in three weeks before the murder of 58-year-old Ms Hodkin.
She also believed she had a miscarriage, something the inquest was told may be significant as Edgington had a termination against her will shortly before stabbing her mother at her home in 2005.
A damning report last year concluded a catalogue of NHS and police failings led to Ms Hodkin's murder.
The inquest continues.
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